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‘Bribe’ to teachers backfires on govt
- Unions threaten strike against bias

Calcutta, Jan. 18: Teachers’ organisations are claiming to have seen through the government’s promise of dearness allowance from January.

Several bodies of schoolteachers today signalled a strike in February to protest against the government’s “attitude problem regarding the teaching community”.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta announced at Writers’ Buildings yesterday that the government would release two instalments of pending dearness allowance for teachers and non-teaching employees of state-aided institutions, employees of municipalities, panchayat bodies and government undertakings at the same rate as other employees of state government offices.

Some teachers, however, are doubtful about Dasgupta’s motive. First, they said, the announcement amounts to trying to bribe them. Second, the grant is actually a denial; why should teachers be paid arrears from January this year and not July 1, 2003, the date from when other government employees have been getting the allowance, they asked.

Joint secretary of the All-Bengal University Teachers’ Association Tarun Naskar charged the government with being “duplicitous”. “I think the CPM-led government is making a mistake. Teachers can see through its move. The decision to grant us enhanced DA from January (instead of July last year) is a very poor joke being played on the teaching community,” said Naskar.

“It is really very difficult to believe Dasgupta. Earlier, he announced that government employees and schoolteachers would get their enhanced DA from July 1, 2003. An order was issued in this regard. But the government soon changed it. Another order was issued on August 5 last year, saying the teachers would not get the enhanced DA because of an acute financial crisis.

“Now, Dasgupta is saying we will be getting the DA from January. We don’t know whether his government will issue another order denying the payment of the DA to us,” said Kartick Saha, a leader of the SUCI-controlled Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association (BPTA).

Saha also alleged that teachers in remote villagers are not getting their salary every month, let alone the DA.

“The condition of retired teachers is the worst as most of them are yet to get their superannuation benefits,” he said.

The BPTA and five other teachers’ organisations are planning to strike work across the state some time next month to protest against the government’s attitude towards the teaching community.

“We are not getting our salaries on time. In rural schools, the government is paying salaries once in two months. The Left Front government is also depriving retired teachers of their benefits. We have reasons to believe that Dasgupta’s announcement regarding payment of DA to schoolteachers was made to please us before the Lok Sabha elections,” Saha said.

The CPM-controlled All-Bengal Teachers’ Association, which was silent after the government’s refusal to give the enhanced DA to teachers, also spoke against it. ABTA state secretariat member Prasanta Dhar said the government should not discriminate between teachers and other employees.

Writers Buildings had argued that it could not pay the enhanced DA to the teachers because of the financial crisis but its attitude, all along, had been “very discriminatory”, Dhar said today.

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